Drilling down on: L.A. Galaxy 2, at Chicago 0
Man of the Match: Galaxy striker Robbie Keane (pictured) has easily been the least effective of L.A.’s trio of Designated Players, but he put a little Irish magic into his day at Toyota Park. His cross led to the first-half penalty kick, which he converted off the inside of the right post. Keane’s second-half strike gave the visitors a comfortable margin.
Packaged for take-away:
- The hand brake never really got released on this one. The heat at Toyota Park looked like it sucked the energy right out of both teams, each of which played a mid-week contest. The crowd seemed oddly muted, too.
- Two surprises in the Galaxy lineup: Landon Donovan’s absence was the big one; he picked up a hip strain in mid-week. Also, center back Omar Gonzalez was left on the bench, helping to protect against overuse too early in his ACL surgery recovery.
- The Galaxy defending on corner kicks was shoddy once again. Chicago had free headers on its first two corner kicks, although none of the Toyota Park men were sharp enough to take advantage.
- No fewer than two Galaxy men picked up yellow cards for dissent in the 15th minute: David Junior Lopes and Juninho. Actually, “dissent” isn’t all that accurate. In Lopes’ case, it was more for blowing his top and getting in the face of referee Jair Marrufo. Juninho was booked for grabbing Marrufo’s shoulder, so you could most accurately say the Galaxy midfielder was booked for losing his mind.
- Aside from that, Lopes had a good match. So did central defensive partner A.J. DeLaGarza, who allowed very little operating room or opportunities for Fire forwards.
- Josh Saunders’ second-half save on Chris Rolfe’s sneaky little 18-yard grass cutter (one of the few effective efforts allowed on target by those center backs) was fantastic stuff, the kind of save missing when Saunders was away on personal leave.
- Fire right back Jalil Anibaba may have been outside the penalty area as he stuck out a hand that kept a Galaxy cross from entering the 18. Hard to tell. Perhaps Marrufo have been better to award a free kick outside the area. Either way, Anibaba shouldn’t be waving his hands out there; that’s why defenders stalk the crosses with their hands purposely down at their sides, or even behind their backs in that situation.
- How badly does Chicago need to improve its situation at forward? Let’s talk quickly about Patrick Nyarko’s 43rd-minute header. Wide open. Uncontested. Six yards away. He doesn’t even get it on target? Nyarko has his moments, but not nearly enough of them. He’s always been occasionally hot but frequently very cold.
- The versatile Rolfe can play a lot of attacking or flank positions. But attacking midfielder isn’t one of them. He didn’t have an eye for the space available Sunday, had no real connection with teammates and had little influence from that position. That’s Sebastien Grazzini’s position; who knows what is going on with that guy, who has returned to Argentina to sort out “personal problems.”
- Newly acquired Chicago attacker Alex got his third appearance for the Fire, coming on at the break for Logan Pause as the Fire’s 4-2-3-1 became a 4-4-2.
- Meanwhile, the Galaxy had Donovan to bring off the bench. He added leadership and possession, not to mention his eye for the counter attack, which paid off once and very nearly got Keane a hat trick.
- Arne Friedrich always looks so composed along the Fire back line.
- Donovan ran the Galaxy counter to perfection, pouncing on Rolfe’s bad turnover and feeding Keane for the insurance goal. Neither Pavel Pardo nor Anibaba covered themselves in glory on the 2-on-2 defense, but much of the blame will go to goalkeeper Sean Johnson, whose less-than-graceful footwork was culpable.